Today, Find a Poem.
Finding a poem is kind of like making a quilt, where you take small pieces of fabric and stitch them together to become something beautiful and wholly your own. When you find a poem, you do the same thing with words, taking words and short phrases that catch your fancy like bright pieces of cloth, and then you decide how to stitch them together.
Here are a couple ways to find a poem:
1. Tear out a page from an old magazine or book (yes, really–I keep several on hand just for this purpose). Scan the page for words you like, words that might go well together, either making a certain sense, or simply sounding interesting together. Circle them. Cross out the others. Decorate the page. You can also do this with junk mail, or papers that you are throwing away. (If you’re a student, try one of those essays or term papers.) You can tape the page into your journals, take a photo of the finished process, or type it out.
2. As you listen to conversations today, or scroll through your social media, write down words and short phrases that you see or hear on little pieces of paper. Sit down with a stack of these, and shuffle them around on a flat surface until they resolve themselves into a poem. Tape the pieces together or type it up.
Poetic forms always have their rules, and I am a firm believer in the intellectual process of trying to create something that fits those rules–I think it refines the poet’s capacity for sensing inherent rhythms and sounds. But I also strongly advocate for breaking and revising the rules when they don’t suit you–that’s one of the ways new forms are born. There is one rule in Found Poetry that I recommend following pretty closely: Don’t take too many words in a row. The final poem should be yours. If you simply must take that entire sentence or complete phrase, then make sure to credit your source in your final poem.
1. Such fine care from my Beloveds. Hand-me-down clothes, stones to hold, scents to smell, advice for healing, images to meditate upon, reminders to rest. I love you, I love you, I love you.
3. The goldfinches are goldening
4. Trees in bud everywhere
5. Poeming saves me. When the world gets either frantic or flat, poeming grounds and centers.
May we walk in Beauty!
“Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive.” —Hafiz
“The problem is that you think you are separate from others.” —Richard Rohr
“You have to want a thing enough to reach out for it.” —Lailah Gifty Akita
“To wait within the moment for the coming dawn,
To breathe the single breath of all that lives,
To walk the web on which we all belong,
To face the newborn day with love instead of fear.
To listen for the whisper of the Spirit’s wind,
To feel Creator’s heartbeat in the world around,
To hear the grace of the Beloved in my neighbor’s voice,
To embrace the sacred space between the past and change.”
“Hope is a dimension of the soul. . .an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart. It transcends the world that is immediately experienced and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons. . . .It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.” —Vaclav Havel
“When time comes for us to again rejoin the infinite stream of water flowing to and from the great timeless ocean, our little droplet of soulful water will once again flow with the endless stream.” —William E. Marks
“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Healing is not pouring your energy into another, but activating the widening field of possibility around yourself, so the other may glimpse their own majesty forming on the horizon.” —Toko-pa Turner
3 thoughts on “NPM Day Ten: Find a Poem”
As someone who is far more successful with quilting than my feeble attempts at poetry, I live your analogy. And your hints. I’ll have to give them a try!
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Whoops. I LOVE your analogy!
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It really IS fun! And it’s a good entry into poetry if you sort of think you might want to try but are unsure of how to proceed. After all, it’s other people’s words–you’re just finding the shiny bits and stitching them together in your own way.
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